The biggest threat that the World’s species face is global warming. The amount Global warming has increased due to the expansion of the human population, causing an increase in the amount of factories, transport and the use of the World’s resources.
If Global warming does cause mass extinction of the World’s species it will be the 6th mass extinction in the history of life on Earth. However it will be the only one that was caused by another species. This other species is man.
Another example of Global warming causing mass extinction, this time without mans help, is what Scientists call “the Great Dying,” which is a 250 million-year-old disaster which wiped out 90% of the ocean species and 70% of land species in the biggest mass extinction in Earth’s geologic history so far. Research released in January 2005 offers new evidence that global warming caused by volcanic activity may have been the main cause. The volcanoes released large amounts of CO2 (A greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere this deprived it of oxygen whilst heating the Earth. This caused environmental deterioration and finally a collapse of many ecosystems.
The Human impact on their surrounding environment is severely reducing biological populations. This increases the risk that many species will become lost locally and may lead to eventually extinction of many species. Over the last 50 years in the UK alone nearly 10 species have become extinct for example the Mouse-Eared Bat and the Horned Dung Beetle. Also a host of other species have suffered dramatic decreases in numbers for example Water Vole, Red Squirrel and the Skylark.
The Human race is now the main contributor to global warming due to an increase in things such as the number of vehicles being used which produce greenhouses gases from burning fossil fuels. Also due to the development of technology more houses require more electricity. The only way to create enough electricity at the moment is to burn fossil fuels which aid global warming. There has been no answer found to produce the high amounts of energy needed but only using a sustainable resource that will protect the other World’s resources.
Scientists believe that Earth’s climate is likely to warm by 1-4C to 5.8C over the next century. Even a slight increase will affect the species that live in delicate ecosystems such as the Rainforest. “An increase of 3C could threaten between 20 and 50 per cent of animals and plants with extinction”. This is due to the increase in temperature bringing about earlier springs, longer frost free seasons, reduced snowfall and competition for resources. The reason that ecosystems become out of sync is the phonochaotic responses of the creatures involved within the ecosystem. The creatures pick up on signals which allow them to know what time of year it is, this is usually how long the day lasts. If the signals are incorrect the creatures will reproduce too soon or too late when there is no food for the offspring. If the producer is fruiting earlier and the primary consumers are unable to feed then their population decreases. If the primary consumer’s population decreases so will the other species that depend on the size of its population.
For example insects, such as Butterflies, are coming out of hibernation quicker during the late winter and early spring seasons as the warm temperatures arrive. This means they have longer to mate and lay their eggs. However the temperature increase also means that the hatched offspring have less time to feed before they have to hibernate again as the plants are drying up and so most of the caterpillars are dying from starvation. This can happen with as little as a 2C increase and the problem is the plants adapt quicker than the caterpillar therefore the window of growth for the caterpillar is shortened until 100% of caterpillars die of starvation this leads to extinction of the butterfly species. This causes the rest of the food chain to break down as the birds have nothing to feed their chicks so their population in turn becomes extinct as well.
The increase in temperature will eventually lead to increased sea levels of between 0.09 and 0.8m due to the melting off polar ice caps. The increased sea levels will have a major impact on coastal and small island ecosystems. For example the Puffin population has started to decrease due to the fact that the fish they depend on have moved from their usual location due to an increase in the water temperature around the coast of the UK. The boundaries of many species’ potential geographical distributions are likely to be shifted 1000km. However it is feared that certain species will be unable to migrate quick enough to keep up with the changing temperatures. Many animals such as Roe Deer are restricted to certain areas because they are trapped in woodland between busy roads and canals which they are unable to cross safely. If the other animals in their ecosystem are able to move away they will be stranded and therefore numbers will decrease until they become extinct.
In my opinion global warming will bring extinction to all of the World’s species, including humans, if we do not act quickly and find a way to hinder the process and the amount of greenhouses gases being produced. The World’s greatest politicians seem too caught up in the products required for producing energy (such as oil) that they are unaware of the affects that they are having on the environment and the destruction they are causing. Although some people have already decided to try and make a change it will take everyone to ‘do their bit’ in order for us to try and combat the effects of Global warming. I believe each country should introduce new laws ordering the people to try and make a difference by altering their lifestyles in order to try and make them more efficient. Although most scientist believe that some mass extinctions e.g. the Jurassic period where caused by asteroids hitting the Earth, I know that if we do not act now the 6th mass extinction in will be caused by Humans and the effects of Global Warming.